With their entertainment consumption predominantly mobile and happening on clip-friendly platforms, short-form content is a must for reaching a Gen Z audience—so what kinds of short videos are they actually watching?
Gen Z is a video-first generation, and they’re driving mobile video consumption. According to YPulse’s most recent media consumption monitor survey, while Millennials still name TV as the screen they watch the most media content on weekly, smartphone is the top screen for Gen Z. According to Think with Google, seven in 10 teens spend more than three hours per day watching mobile video. And this mobile video consumption is also inevitably fueling their viewing of short-form content.
The mobile-friendly platforms that host that short-form are now their go-to sources of entertainment. According to our survey, YouTube is the top source that 13-17-year-olds are using to watch content weekly—for Millennials, the top source is Netflix. But the reality is that both generations are turning to the short-video-centric platform for their entertainment in massive amounts, and both are also increasingly watching videos on social media, where short-form content is the norm. Gen Z is actually more likely to be watching video content on social platforms than they are to be watching cable: Currently, 38% of 13-17-year-olds tell us they watch video on Instagram weekly, and 32% watch video on Snapchat weekly, versus just 21% who watch cable weekly. It’s no wonder that an onslaught of social media-only TV shows are being launched by media brands, from BuzzFeed to Snapchat. New short videos platforms are also emerging and vying for their attention—including the now-infamous TikTok, which reportedly has over 500 million worldwide users trying to out-do each other in under-15-second clips.
Whether it’s on their top video source YouTube, or up-and-coming video factories like TikTok, YPulse research shows that 64% of 13-17-year-olds and 60% of 18-36-year-olds are watching video clips or short form webisodes online weekly. It’s an essential way to reach these groups—especially Gen Z. And it’s essential to know what kind of short content they’re currently watching. We tapped into our latest media consumption monitor to uncover the top genres of short-form video Gen Z is watching weekly, compared to Millennials:
Music and music videos are the top kind of short content that Gen Z viewers are watching weekly, followed by vloggers/online personalities. Gen Z is more likely to be watching musical short-content weekly than Millennials—which aligns with the passion for music that we generally see among younger consumers. We’ve also shown how YouTube is dominating young consumers’ music listening habits, beating out major streaming services as a source they regularly use to listen to music, especially among 13-17-year-olds. Their interest in short-music content is also clearly one of the reasons that TikTok has seen so much success with the group—we even cited the app as one of the trends influencing Gen Z’s musical tastes. The high ranking of vloggers and online personalities is also no major surprise—we’ve seen the influencer effect in action, and their interest in online celebrities remains strong for both groups.
But there are clear differences between the top types of short content that Gen Z and Millennials are watching weekly. Sports/sports news, news/current events, and entertainment/celebrity news are all on Millennials’ top 10 ranking, but don’t make Gen Z’s. Overall, sports content is having a hard time drawing in the next generation—and it’s clear here that sports franchises may have an uphill battle gaining Gen Z viewers, even online. Entertainment/celebrity news is another area that has been transformed by social media. It’s possible that Gen Z doesn’t feel the need to watch this type of short-form content because the celebrities they care about are already airing their drama on their own accounts. Why watch a celebrity news clip when you can watch a livestream of your favorite celebrity telling you all about their life’s drama personally?
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